Saten decides to hunt for the rumored Shadow Metal and Uiharu decides to help remotely. Going to the stadium where a big event was held between esper schools, Saten is searching when she's captured by men in protective suits. When Kuroko and Mikoto learn of this, Kuroko teleports them to the location, where Mikoto attacks Saten's attackers, only to discover they were a cleaning crew designed to keep esper DNA from being salvaged. Meanwhile, Uiharu discovers the website where Saten learned about Shadow Metal and discovers things about a supposed DNA computer that can give birth to esper abilities.
The following day, Mikoto learns that Misaka Imouto hadn't returned a borrowed P.E. suit and decides to investigate, where she discovers Misaka Imouto was hurt, but the paramedics that took her to the hospital lied about which one they took her too, eventually causing Mikoto to realize Misaki must be involved. Misaki captures Kuroko, Saten, and Uiharu and changes their memories so that later when Mikoto encounters them, they don't know her other than by reputation. The head mistress of Mikoto's school puts Mikoto under the supervision of Misaki's faction as she too is under Misaki's control. Mikoto quickly discovers what Misaki did to her friends and is determined to lose her guardians.
During the next festival event, Mikoto is teamed up with Mitsuko, who reveals she knew Misaka Imouto wasn't Mikoto but let it slide, assuming it was Mikoto's sister. Mikoto confides in her about what is happening and Mitsuko agrees to help but cautions Mikoto not to believe her right away if she comes back with info on Misaka Imotou since Misaki could change her memories. After they win the event, Mitsuko sets out to investigate and is targeted by Baba-kun, who'd orchestrated Misaka Imouto's defeat the day before. Mitsuko finds Misaka Imouto's kitten when Baba finds her and reveals he knows something about Misaka Imouto. However, he wants whatever info Mitsuko has and defeats her with robot dogs he controls when she tries to save the kitten.
Wannai and Awatsuki arrive on scene with Saten. They have Saten carry the unconscious and battered Mitsuko away as they battle Baba and his robot dogs. They do better than expected, so he is forced to use a mosquito robot like he used on Mitsuko to take her down, only he leaves it in the case and tosses an empty case so that Awatsuki is forced to chase the robot dog carrying it. Wannai uses her water abilities and does well, but Baba thinks he has her, not realizing she's been hiding water. Awatsuki returns to assist since she caught the robot dog and defeated it. Baba is forced to bring a big praying mantis robot into play, but Mikoto arrives, having learned what happened from Saten, putting an end to Baba's hopes of a victory.
Well now, well now. What a great volume this turned out to be.
I loved that Wannai and Awatsuki got to be the stars for a while in this volume. They've just been small, side-characters who seem fairly reserved and even timid (they call Mikoto "Misaka-sama"). They became Mitsuko's best friends. As such, it was so awesome to see them get angry and let loose when they saw what Baba had done to Mitsuko. Despite not being high level espers, nor combat trained espers, they do quite well. Wannai's "Hydro Hand" ability to control water and Awatsuki's "Float Dial" ability to control buoyancy (with some telekinetic control) go well together. But even split apart, the two do well. No wonder they are students at Tokiwadai. ^_^ I love it when the B-team gets to do stuff like this.
I love how Mitsuko works with Mikoto here. For the next anime series, I hope they've "fixed" the issues created by the first anime series' portrayal of Mitsuko. She's someone Mikoto can trust and Mitsuko knows this, thus her warning to be wary of any information Mitsuko initially reports to her, lest it be disinformation from Misaki. It is a shame that Mitsuko didn't get to unleash on Baba, but she'll get her turn.
As to the bigger plot, Misaki and her Mental Out ability is something else. With her ability to control people, wipe memories, and plant false memories, I can't help but wonder how Accelerator would defend against her unless he too has some sort of natural defense against her like Mikoto has.
Regardless, I'm not sure what Misaki is up to here. She's got Misaka-10032 and she's got Saten, Uiharu, and Kuroko so that they don't see Mikoto as a friend, but just someone they are aware of. While it seemed that Baba might have been working for her, he's obviously working for someone else. I get the feeling that since she can't control Mikoto directly, she's manipulating Mikoto into doing some sort of dirty work for her against whomever Baba is working for. Then, if Mikoto confronts Misaki directly, Misaki can protect herself by using Mikoto's friends and Misaka-10032 as hostages.
Which reminds me, could Misaki have an interest in the Sisters project? She is apparently having Misaka-10032 treated and cared for, but there may be more to it than whatever plans Misaki has for Mikoto.
Mikoto's mother isn't getting much air time in the manga. I suppose that's because she was featured on Index side of the Daihasei Festival arc. Still, I hope we get to see other things about her mother that we didn't get to see (or read) on the Index side.
On the Seven Seas side of things, we get the usual stuff -- full Japanese honorifics and some of the extras from the original tankoubon. There's a preview for Zero's Familiar, which I did look at, but I'm not so sure about for certain reasons.
So, a good volume that allows side characters Wannai and Awatsuki to have a huge moment in the sun.